To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Creating institutional disruption: an alternative method to study institutions

Devon Gidley (Management School, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 31 March 2020

Issue publication date: 16 September 2021




This paper develops a new method to study institutions based on institutional work theory. Institutional disruption is intentionally utilized to explore the taken-for-granted foundations of social institutions. The paper outlines the method and considerations.


Taking inspiration from ethnomethodological breaches, the paper outlines the steps in the new method called researcher initiated institutional disruption (RIID). The four steps are identifying the institution, identifying the institutional actors, selecting the disruption type and disrupting the institution to gather data (action and reaction). RIID utilizes three types of institutional disruption: undermining assumptions and beliefs, resistance and issue raising.


The new method complements traditional field methods, such as observation, by showing how a researcher can deliberately make taken-for-granted institutional features visible. The paper finds that RIID offers the opportunity to gather different data, but it is not appropriate for every study and carries potential consequences in the field.


This paper contributes to the literature by outlining an innovative use of theory as method. The approach has not previously been detailed and offers the potential to access previously inaccessible research questions, data and theoretical insights.



I would like to thank Steffen Roth, the three anonymous reviewers, Mark Palmer, Mike Crone and Amanda Lubit.


Gidley, D. (2021), "Creating institutional disruption: an alternative method to study institutions", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 810-821.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles